And This Is Your Brain On Dating.

In case you were looking for another reason — Reason #598, let’s call it, why not? —  why dating can be the absolute WORST:

Let’s think about the brain. We’ll use my brain as an example. Okay. On any average day — here’s today’s — my brain looks kind of like this:



And then this. This is my brain on dating:


It’s incredibly irritating. I don’t want to believe that it’s true. I hate hate hate that it is true. But honestly? It’s kind of true. And I KNOW it’s not just me who does this. I had a friend who affectionately nicknamed her post-date brain-self ‘Sandy,’ after Sandra Bullock in that movie “Speed,” because suddenly, SOMEONE ELSE IS DRIVING THE BUS AND THEY ARE GOING REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY FAST AND WE’VE LOST ALL CONTROL AND THERE IS NO STOPPING NOW.

(Ok. I’ve actually never seen “Speed.” But calling my post-date brain ‘Sandy’ sounds better than calling it ‘Time Traveling DeLorean,’ which was the only other 90’s-era movie featuring an unstoppable vehicle that I could come up with, so. Sandy it is. You’re welcome).

My rational brain knows that it’s statistically unlikely that it’s ever going to work out. My rational brain is trying to evaluate this person based upon their personality, attractiveness, sense of humor, charisma, intelligence, appeal. My rational brain is trying to process a lot of information — so tell me about your job! where did you grow up? how many siblings do you have? — and see if there’s a connection, a compatibility. My rational brain is telling me to take things slowly. My rational brain is telling me to chill the fuck out.

My emotional brain just picked out the floral arrangements at our wedding. My emotional brain is the WORST.

(I’m lying. I actually don’t really care about floral arrangements all that much. I mean, maybe I will, if I ever get married, but I really just said that to try and express a complex idea in a simple sentence. My emotional brain is ACTUALLY working through an elaborate fantasy where I try to picture my date being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” Hand to God. That’s where I zone out to.* By the time I remember that I’m still on a date and focus back on the conversation and the actual person sitting in front of me, inevitably I’ve said something weird and the moment’s over and I’ve totally blown it and there’s truly no way of explaining what just happened and then I wonder why the good ones never call me back.)


And more to the point — this is why I don’t do this all that often. It gets exhausting, losing your brain like that. Even if only for a few days. It’s nice to be back. I’ve lost a LOT of “thinking about sandwich” time in there.

xo k


*I’m aware of how incredibly pretentious that sounds. I don’t care. Look, some of you ladies have been secretly saving wedding magazines for years, and some of you have elaborate princess fantasies, and that’s awesome, and I don’t begrudge you that at all. You do you. It’s just that my version of romantic fantasyland involves, like, some good-looking dude in glasses and a blazer who buys me a subscription to the Sunday New York Times in print and knows which wines go with things. A GIRL CAN DREAM.


29 thoughts on “And This Is Your Brain On Dating.

  1. As someone who just got married, I can tell you that it’s entirely possible you may never give a flying fig about floral arrangements. Thinking about sandwiches? So much more interesting.

  2. Yes and:


    At 58 I’ve had a lifetime of men, dates, etc. I’ve been married once (for 20 years), divorced once (since 2005), and am now blissfully single (for the last 8 years).

    My brain is now functioning EXACTLY as it should (See diagram 1)

    Moral of my story: you may grow out of it. In the meantime, enjoy!

  3. Replace sandwiches with French Fries and yup. Thaaaat’s my brain too. You may have actually pegged up to a 1/5 of Americans with that diagram…

  4. Brilliant! (as always) By the way,(sorry. I don’t speak in initials) I saw Mary Stewart, and your costumes were incredible!

  5. great graphic! I am closing out self-imposed sandwich week; it’s been fabulous. There’s really nothing better than coming home from grocery shopping with 4 different kinds of cheese, 3 different breads, and a slew of meats to go along with them.

  6. Pingback: friday, i’m in love | allison

  7. Speaking as a guy, I have to tell you that the male brain cannot contain more than one thought at a time. So Brain #1 is completely out for us. When women ask us what we are thinking, take it from me that if we respond with “Nothing.” We are thinking of nothing. Our mind is like your second example. The major subject in our brain is “Staring at nothing” or “Sports”. So you can see that we males do not have a clue about a woman’s brain.

  8. I love that your dream guy sounds like Ira Glass! (Who happens to be my dream guy — after my husband, of course!)

  9. I was just discussing dating issues with a mate last night and I mentioned that I keep making the mistake of being such a good first, second, and third date that by the time number four rolls around I’m crippled by performance anxiety. There’s NO WAY I can live up to the ‘me’ I was in the previous three dates and it will be painfully obvious that occasionally I lapse into awkward silences and blurt out disturbing non sequiturs and then my beautifully constructed facade will crumble to pieces and I will be left alone at a dinner table whilst my date sneaks out the back door.
    No thanks. I’ll just never answer the phone again.
    We’ll always have dates 1 through 3.

  10. The same is true as your brain looking for a job. During the interview they act like they like me. They really, really like me are looking dir sineine jyst like me and want me to start as soon as possible. Then I get a generic HR message about how someone else more closely matches what they are looking for.

  11. I loved your article and found it very entertaining. Definitely gave it a ‘like.’ If you want to read another blog full of silliness, try

  12. The diagrams of your brain actions are so fun, and kind of true for girls. The brain structures of men and women are of huge difference, just like one book says, “Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus.” Girls are very sentimental, and like to make many many assumptions. For example, if a man didn’t call a woman again after their first date, many thoughts such as “Was I wearing the wrong dress”, “Was I laughing so loudly that bothered him” would come to the woman’s mind. Probably because we read too many fairy tales in the childhood, so we have many romantic fantasies about future, about love. Men may never understand these tiny, unreal thoughts. But it is the daydreams that make girls cute and make the life colorful!

  13. well i think it wud be really cool if u juz concentrated on being urself rather than tryin to impress ur date….i think tht wud really work out in long term sense …

  14. You drew a brain – I wrote a poem – a friend talked about “trailer house sex. You know, where the guy has a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his t shirt sleeve?” So I wrote this poem – And here you are 21 years later, writing about the same damned thing!

    Trailer House Sex

    don’t do it honey my best friend says yr heart’s too close to yr twat
    shouldn’t a told her i had a date heart poundin about going with him
    bout maybe getting laid even tho i know i shouldn’t

    good sense don’t work for me even if my head knows if we get to be friends it won’t matter we don’t fuck fuck too soon it’s just a fuck and over with quick trailer house sex cheap hot dirty bang bang bang izzat my heart?

    in his truck i know we will way he laughs at all my chatter
    at the hot springs wet and naked see him look at me in starlight

    last chance to be smart i think feel him thinkin say no now or not
    ah he’s handsome strong smooth-skinned sweet tasting laughing what do you like and did you like that black eyes beard easy talk and listen into morning

    i wasn’t scared til next night going to where he said he’d be my heart in my knees cold sweat and shaking afraid he won’t look at me or worse look at me like she’s not right for a handsome strong man sorry he carried me off into the woods

    but there he smiles right at me asks me if i ate yet i say no let’s go
    i cn hardly swallow, but he acts peaceful pays for my salad too

    outside the truckstop i’m up on a curb for a stretch along his belly
    long warm hug kiss he’s tired goin home to bed

    i say call me

    he drives west i drive east and that ws yesterday and now after midnight thinking bout his face mouth smooth skin i wish he’d call cause i sure’s hell can’t call him
    said he’ll be gone all weekend ‘n i won’t see him til next week
    and what if he was nice this time
    maybe by next week he won’t want to look at me or look at me and think god she’s just

    not right

    September 8th, 1993

  15. So accurate it’s scary. This is why I hate dating. Too much is going on in my mind then after that’s ALL THAT”S ON MY MIND. Then I’m usually disappointed.

  16. Sometimes it feels like your brain is under a gigantic stage curtain like on Looney Tunes…and you’re constantly trying to not obsess and push the curtain off of you : ). Must…not…think…about…it…

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